Greedy Goblin

Friday, February 10, 2017

Social goals and asocial methods and the next game

The conclusion of my yesterday post was " I want a game with a socially relevant goal that can be reached by other means than clicking faster." This is contradicting my blog motto: "being anti-social in a social game to get a heap of pixel gold or because real life is more fun without morons and slackers".

The solution is that "being" is not a good term at all. What are you? There is a library full of philosophy about that. Let's evade this question and use the term "acting" or "performing", because that is clearly visible and measurable. I believe that if you act a-socially, you progress faster towards your goal than if you act socially.. "Socially" is pretty obvious: caring about the emotions and well-being of others. A-sociality doesn't mean causing negative emotions that is often the goal of psychopaths. A griefer very much care about the emotions and well-being of others, just his goal is not love and respect but fear and anger. The a-social approach considers others objects and use them accordingly. It doesn't mean abuse, just like you "give" fuel to your car and don't smash it with a hammer, you should give money to the shop and don't vandalize it. The laws of our countries are objectively existing, so is the jail for those who abuse others.

A game is a simulation, that allows both experimenting and easy way to present your results. Unlike in real life, failure has little consequence, the worst possible outcome is losing all the time you spent with the game. Also, other players can easily relate to your situation, my pixel dragon kill is exactly the same as yours.

From the above comes "in a game you achieve your goals easier if you act a-socially and you can use it to prove your point to others". This is true for any goal. Without trying, I guarantee you that you get higher in WoW pet battles if you just read guides and do pet battles alone instead of joining a "fun" guild that has "pet battles" in its description. But no one would give a damn, because who cares about WoW pet battles. For blogging, social people must care, and this can only achieved if the goal is socially relevant.

"Socially relevant" is something like "socials talk about it", "those who have it consider it e-peen", "incites envy in socials". Having high rating in League of Legends is such thing for LoL players. They all insist that they are platinum smurfs and those who are really platinum look down on those who are not. In old WoW epic gear was something like that. Only the best had it and those who didn't have it envied it and cried to Blizzard to no end.

So the next game must be something that has a socially relevant goal. It needs significant playerbase (if no one plays the game, nothing in it can be relevant) and the (majority of the) playerbase must focus on a goal. This is true for most e-sports like Starcraft, however there is no place for a-sociality or sociality in a completely twitch game, so nothing for me to see. Most games suggested to me were either low population or "you do whatever you want and no one cares".

Yes, I cry some more about EVE, because it was perfect on paper. Socials cared a lot about their ships exploding and their precious empire evicted while it was easy to get ahead with trading instead of social grouping. If only the devs wouldn't intervene for their buddies...

Anyway, I hope the above makes it clear what I want to achieve as a blogger and what kind of game would serve that. Please think about the games you suggested from this perspective: does it have goals that makes other players care?


JackTheManiac said...

I for one applies the concepts to various degree.

My kindness for others is genuine, but I apply the efficiency of asociality and self reliability in my day to day life, to get the things I want. Not the things that would make other people jealous, but the things that I want to have or do. They aren't really big things, but they make me happy.

As for games themselves, I think that the old WoW model does not exist anymore and won't exist again. None of the games that were suggested offer anything like Eve or WoW, because the design paradigms changed since back then.

Original WoW was fun because you were a citizen of the world, and your success was not guaranteed. You had to put in the time and effort to level up and move forward. That was the fun thing.

Nowadays all games can be soloed. Not that it's a bad thing.

I personally like Final Fantasy 14 because I like ARPGs as much as/more than I liked Original WoW. The storylines are nice there, because I expect it like I expect a single player JRPG. The dance in Normal Mode are reasonable (it's called "Hard" at max level, but it's really normal mode in practice). In Savage/Extreme mode (same difficulty, one is for raids the other is for primals aka single boss fight) the dance has the same issues as in WoW, that you cannot practice it solo.

They should add a training mode where you can solo practice mechanics in a loop. The boss does 0 damage, and loops between mechanics, and you need to do them correctly.

That was never what Original WoW was. You had to explore and do quests and kill stuff to get to explore more zones and see more of the world. It was a journey for the journey itself.

Esteban said...

Progression raiding in WoW or something quite similar like FFXIV is the only thing I can think of that fits the bill. You have a team (presumably of fellow asocials) which you can manage according to your theories, a clear goal, a time frame, and enough people caring. A more hardcore version of The Pug, I suppose.

If 'asocial behaviour' is just shorthand for 'exercise of power through in-game wealth while avoiding other players', then EVE is the only game with an economic model that will let you do that (though the new Conan sandbox might hold a bit of promise). Tale in the Desert would be interesting just because it is the most explicitly social game out there, but you have already dismissed it as too niche and irrelevant, and you're probably right.

Of course, the difficulty in finding your perfect game may itself be instructive. Perhaps your asocial toolbox is simply not as widely applicable as you think it is - while empathy, diplomacy, and a dash of Iberian charm can improve almost any activity.

Smokeman said...

Gevlon says:
"I believe that if you act a-socially, you progress faster towards your goal than if you act socially.."

It's true. You will. The zen moment is when you really understand what your goals are. Is your goal to "win a game?" If you stomp through content just so you can quit when it's over have you "won?" Of what real value is "progressing faster" in a game?

So. What ARE your goals, Gevlon? Are they to win a game or make a difference? I KNOW what my goals are, I want to make a difference. That's why I'm developing an indy game. Will it be the next WoW? I doubt it. I think I've already made a difference... In fack I'm sure of it. People have seen my previous work and thought "I can do better than that!" and pulled out a compiler / paint program and tried. I've inspired people to try to make online games. Why do I mention this? Because I know my game playing time is just entertainment. I don't think I'm "accomplishing" anything there. Where I could be accomplishing something is when I work on my little indy game... unknown and in the dark, the very definition of "a-social."

You're a smart guy. You clearly have some engineering skills, have you considered stepping up your game? Learn HTML, PHP, and SQL. Learn how to program web sites. Start your own web site and use it to display hard ball data analysis on the economies of online games.

That would be accomplishing something. Think about it!

Chad Masterson said...

I stand by my suggestion of RuneScape, It's a stupid grindy game for kids but it also has a relatively robust economy complete with joke hats that are worth more than the maximum amount of gold that can possibly be held by a single character.

Anonymous said...

""Socially" is pretty obvious: caring about the emotions and well-being of others"

Socially vs Asocial = one cares about what other people think, and requires their approval, the other might enjoy hanging around with people sometimes, but doesnt require their approval, and is quite happy just doing their own thing without them.

The guy who plays eve by solo mining in a belt is asocial. Ditto the guy who logs into Eve, runs his missions, logs off without ever chatting with anyone.

That they care about the emotions and well being of others makes them non-sociopath, not social.

Anonymous said...

If you would move masses of people in EVE then the devs would be biased to not intervene against you. You didn't move masses, so they did not care less. "Content producer" is something they value. You already know this, but you just keep mentioning what happened you as if it matters.

Gevlon said...

@Anon: so you're saying "EVE devs are biased, so everything is OK there"

Anonymous said...

"It needs significant playerbase (if no one plays the game, nothing in it can be relevant) and the (majority of the) playerbase must focus on a goal."
- That sounds like a social thing to say. If you truly don't care what others think, then why are you concerned with this? You also seem very concerned with which articles have the most views etc. I understand that you wish to spread your "gospel", and that if it is a more popular game, more people will potentially be "converted". However, if the gospel is good enough, the game should not matter as a platform to convey it. So just chose the game that you like the most.
Also, "if" EvE has corrupt devs, the way you beat them is to either make it so obvious to the average player (which you have not) that they care, or you manage to prove that their corruption can't save their favorites against your ideas and influence on the player base. Mittani might be an asshat, but he understands social engineering. Something that you don't seem to be willing to admit that you are trying as well. You're projects are all cases of social engineering, you are trying to make people change their behavior based on numbers and facts instead of what is "cool" - for this I applaud you! - But you seem to mix up terms and what it is you are really doing here.
Make one (or a few) clear goals - apply your reasoning towards this goal - prove it works with numbers - profit! Should work in any game, so chose the one you will like the most and stay the longest in.

Gevlon said...

@Anon: I do care what people think. I don't care what they think about my person.

I don't think anyone can make EVE dev corruption more obvious than Falcon himself who saved violent criminals from justice just because they were Goons, then went on a bully campaign against the most notable anti-Goon and then gave CCP IP for free to Goons to let them make a book for money they can pocket.

I want to do projects inside a game. No one can do that in EVE, not even The Mittani. He has a successful project in the real world that includes corrupting the devs of a game. His in-game actions are irrelevant for his success. Same for the casino RMT-ers who made several $100K using CCP property with the corrupted devs covering them up until "someone" threatened them with a lawsuit. What happens in EVE has nothing to do with what people do in EVE, it has everything to do with what they do with corrupted devs, who are then - as gods in the game - make it happen in game.

Cathfaern said...

"If you truly don't care what others think, then why are you concerned with this?"
If he truly does not care what others think then there is no reason to write a blog.

Anonymous said...

@Cathfaern: That citation is just taken out of its context. Obviously it refers to the terms he himself has put up for his project (which are quoted just before the quote you made). The point of this blog, as far as I have been lead to understand, is to make people make decisions based on facts and numbers, instead of trying to be one of the cool kids and do what "they" think is smart etc. Obviously he wants traffic then to get his message across. However, what the quote you refer to was pointing at, was why he felt a need for his next game project to be "popular" among socials.

Randomus271 said...

"The point of this blog, as far as I have been lead to understand, is to make people make decisions..."

Also known as: Caring what people think - and indeed *how* they think it.

Anonymous said...

Would you care to make the jump to mobile gaming? It's a bit of a younger and different audience, but there's a lot of active gamers there. There are some mobile games have game a ways from the beginning days where they were mostly just overt money-grabs (of course there are still some that are).

Summoners War has over 70 million downloads and millions of active players. It's a team-building game with over a thousand different units. There's PvP and PvE elements in the game, and parts with and without social interaction. The PvP arena is mostly where game success is measured, much of the rest is seen as means to an end from the competitive parts of the player base. Getting yourself into the top 10,000 being a crowning achievement of sorts.

From someone who's also walked the MMO landscape for the better part of a decade as well (WoW, Eve, SWTOR, TERA and many others) it's got a lot going for it.

If you're interested:

Anonymous said...

Does quantifiable or ranking matter to you? I.e., is a "be good" metric enough or do you need a numeric grade and/or leaderboard? EVE is out but just for example "be a good station trader" is a goal, but there is not much way to deduce how much better you are than most. versus eports rankings.
This is the second post where you mention majority, which IMO is problematic, at least for you picking a MMO which is my hope. E.g. WoW arena score is specific number and more people play WoW arena than play any other MMO. But a majority of WoW players don't care about Arena score. In particular, I think majority precludes all MMOs since the large ones want to provide many ways for customers to enjoy enough to give them money and the focused MMOs are too small for you to care.

WoW arena is my new recommendation: clear numeric metric, over a million play it.
Can't you just look at the market research firms top selling games and twitch and youtube streamers? If you do the project in a game that is not in the top dozen or two, will many notice/care?

P.S., in defense of Pet Battles: unless you convince yourself that some esport game is "not that twitchy", my guess is you will end up in a niche MMO that has fewer players who play it than the number of people who care about WoW pet battles. E.g. enough pet battlers that WoW 7.2 adds pet battle dungeons.

Trees said...

You're leaving yourself with two options: Wealth of money/items in an MMO, or Match-Making-Rating in a non MMO. Every game in your list boils down to either of these two things, so the only relevant factor you should be looking at is the social popularity of the game.

I continue to suggest Dota2, as it can be played successfully in many different ways, socially by interacting with allies and enemies, or a-socially by accomplishing objectives solo. Of course it is also very popular, consistently near the top of the most-viewed list on twitch tv.

Gevlon said...

@Trees: no. Many MMOs have non-purchasable gear. And many MMOs have wealth/gear little relevance because it's trivial to get (WoW). World of Tanks now have Matchmaking rating and no one cares. Socials are often strange creatures and what becomes "cool" and not is not always predictable

Anonymous said...

I'd second Summoners War as a game to look into. It's old enough that there are some set assumptions on how "best" to play the game, with enough variables that may keep you interested. Also enough P2P vs F2P assumptions to disprove. It's a big enough audience to impact; however, it is heavy on grinding, but, perhaps that is something you can research/ disprove.

Unknown said...

I need some clarification of terms in order to make any concrete suggestions.

First of all what do you consider a twitch game? Is it any game where physical reflexes make any difference at all, a big difference or just an overwhelming "the game boils down to who has better hand-eye coordination + reaction time" kind of thing? It's pretty clear that every non-turn-based game fits into one of those 3 categories. Or are you even more strict and refuse to play any game where muscle memory is important? Say you want to be a DD in WoW; now that speed runs are a major part of the game you need to train yourself for max performance more than ever. In both PvP and PvE, thinking about "which button do I press now" EVEN DURING GCD is unacceptable trash-tier play. If you are a healer and you are not running content below your gear level, you will need to both preempt damage and also react quickly with cooldowns. Every role now has to do a lot of dancing so you need to get used to how every trash mob's abilities are avoided etc etc. Even world of tanks has aiming which involves a good deal of hand-eye coordination if not reflexes.

Next up, how exactly do you define "strategy"? For example you cited Hearthstone as having no "strategy layer". I would agree that the entire game boils down to knowledge, but in order to exploit any meta you must know what it is (easily found online) and how to counter known decks with whatever you can make from your card pool (this can also be found online but once the information is out there there is very little time to use it as everyone else will also implement the same thing and the meta will shift). This is literally rock-paper-scissors with a lot of moving parts. That's the sort of thing studied in game theory, with terms like "mixed strategy", "optimal strategy" and "degenerate strategy". If this is not what you are referring to when you write about strategy, I would like to know what is. I do not understand how exploiting the meta of any turn based game is different from exploiting a market. The only difference I see is that games where trading/moneymaking exists have it as a side-activity to finance "the real game" while games like HS are only ever about that, so the competition is a lot steeper and there are fewer new strategies to discover and teach to the masses, which is a fine reason not to play them, but there is no sense in writing that a strategy game does not have a strategy layer.

I will offer some advice tho: find a persistent world game where economy is a thing and mistakes are punished by loss of stuff. People will behave very differently in that sort of game than in something like LoL where you play matches and just go up/down in a hierarchy, and it seems to me that analyzing/playing around/exploiting that behavior is what this blog is all about, which is why you left WoW when you did and stayed in EVE for so long despite believing that (metaphorically) God has conspired with your enemies to ruin you.